One of the largest growing concerns in Toronto is the constantly
increasing number of citizens who are finding themselves living on the
streets. With the decrease in the number of available jobs, the population
of homeless people has literally boomed. My questions are not as simple to
answer as they may appear. Why is a large portion of our community forced
to live on the streets? What has be done to decrease the problem? These
are the questions I will confront in my essay.
With the economical wealth attributed to the name “Canada”, one would
have to wonder why there is a homeless situation at all. This problem is
especially evident in Canada’s wealthiest city, Toronto. When it comes to
the affairs of the people, it is the government who should intervene. When
I look at what the government has done with regard to the homeless problem,
I have to doubt that everything is being done to eradicate it. The United
Nations implemented a universal declaration of human rights. Article 25
Section 1 of this declaration states:
Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health
and well being of himself and of his family, including food, clothing,
housing, and medical care and necessary social services, and to the right
to security in the event of unemployment, sickness, disability, widowhood,
old age or other lack of livelihood in circumstances beyond his control.
This is a step in the right direction. However, this is not enough.
These rights are subject to the discretion of the government of the country
who decides to obey these universal rights. How much is “adequate”?
The government, both at the federal and municipal levels, is currently
working on new spending cuts. These cuts also include spending on welfare,
unemployment and social services that are geared towards helping the
homeless. Spending cuts can be seen as a necessity to maintain the country
economically, but the reason for having a government in the first place is
to take care of the people. How can this be done when money is being taken
away from those services that are necessary to uphold this obligation?
Simply put, it cannot. Those obligations are served by nonprofit
organizations who depend on government grants to maintain a standard of
care for those who need the services.
The blame cannot be placed only on the government. Such a system of
assistance depends on its beneficiaries to be honest and have some
integrity. Many recipients of these services attempt to “cheat the
system”. With no will to search for work many of these recipients remain
at home and reap the benefits of their weekly cheques. This causes the
government to create other services to control the amounts of money being
distributed to those people. This process is costly and would be
unnecessary if all of the recipients decided to take an honest approach to
What can the government do to decrease the homeless population?
Although there is no quick and easy answer to solve this difficult problem,
Toronto has the means to attempt economical ways to research and come up
with ideas to solve it. Here in Ontario we have many excellent
universities and colleges with equally excellent students who are taking
courses in the political sciences. If the government were to cooperate
with these universities and colleges and have them work in conjunction with
the current research groups, then the answer to decrease the homeless
population would be effectively answered. The government would encounter
little expense and at the same time give the students a chance to implement
what they are learning into real life situations. Everyone benefits from
this idea and there are no losers.
In conclusion I think that our homeless problem could eventually be
rooted out entirely if everyone were to take part in the care of their
fellow neighbour. If we were to stop being self-centered and start
thinking about the other person who has less than us, I am sure that we
would benefit from it. It isn’t all that hard. A few advertisements on
the television and radio, a little push from our society’s leaders and we
would be off on the right track. That worked for the recycling program.
Now we should try employing this idea for even better reasons. I doubt that
I will be around to see this idea in use all around the world, but I do
hope that I can one day see it used here in Toronto. To assist all the
homeless here in Toronto would be a very nice thing to see. The best part
of it all would be to know that we, as a society, would be able to work
together despite all the barriers created by racism and our naive nature
when it comes to other heritages.